Democrat Raphael Warnock Slips as GOP’s Herschel Walker Rushes Past Him in Debate Performance

GWINNETT, GA - SEPTEMBER 09: U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Georgia, Herschel Walker
Megan Varner/Getty Images

Republican Herschel Walker exceeded expectations during the U.S. Senate debate against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in Savannah, Georgia, on Friday, as he repeatedly tied Warnock to President Joe Biden and warned viewers about Warnock’s “smooth” talking.

Walker, a former football star vying to unseat Warnock in a highly competitive battleground race, pointed out several times throughout the debate that Warnock has voted in line with Biden’s agenda 96 percent of the time.

Warnock sought to defend his record while tiptoeing around far-left agenda items such as defunding the police and packing the Supreme Court.

Top topics of the debate, hosted by Nexstar Media Group, included inflation, election integrity, abortion, student debt, crime, and health care.

Both candidates were also grilled on more personal matters, including recent revelations that Warnock’s church initiated eviction processes for at least eight tenants between 2020 and 2022 and that Walker’s ex-girlfriend has accused him of paying for her abortion in 2009.

Concerning inflation, the moderator asked Warnock to defend his votes for Biden’s multitrillion-dollar spending packages, which many analysts tie to the crippling inflation rate.

“You’ve supported nearly every piece of legislation that this administration has pushed through Congress. Do you take any responsibility for the financial hardships currently that Georgians are facing?” the moderator asked.

Warnock first acknowledged “that people are feeling pain” before touting his vote for the ostensibly named “Inflation Reduction Act,” a bill passed in August that no Senate Republican supported and that multiple studies have found would have nearly no effect on reversing the nation’s rising costs of everyday goods.

“You continue to pat yourself on the back, but right now, families are starving. Right now, families are hurting, and they’re hurting because of the bills and laws you’re passing right now,” Walker said.


The moderator also asked Warnock, who has been opposed to the state’s Election Integrity Act since its inception, why he has claimed the election bill makes voting harder for racial minorities given “there was record turnout in the primary this May” and given “the African American vote grew approximately 50 percent from 2018 to 2022’s primaries.”

Warnock continued to insist the bill, the first voting overhaul bill to pass after the 2020 election, “makes voting harder” and attributed high turnout to voters “overcoming this hardship.”

On the topic of abortion, the moderator first confronted Walker about an allegation that surfaced this month in the Daily Beast that he paid for his ex-girlfriend’s abortion in 2009. Walker has continuously denied the allegation, and on the debate stage he reiterated, “That’s a lie.”

Warnock, a pro-abortion pastor, has carefully avoided criticizing Walker for the allegation and continued that strategy during the debate.

When asked if he supports “any” restrictions whatsoever on abortion, Warnock reiterated his long-held view that “a patient’s room is too narrow and small and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor, and the United States government.”

Walker shot back, “I heard about him. I heard he was a neat talker, but did he not mention that there’s a baby in that room as well?”

As a follow-up blow to Warnock, Walker charged, “In Atlanta, Georgia, there are more black babies that is aborted than anything, so if ‘black lives matter,’ then why are you not protecting those babies?”


At one point, Christian Dent, a freshman at the University of Georgia who is also, incidentally, a Democrat activist and Warnock supporter, appeared virtually and asked if the candidates would support “further forgiveness of student loan debt,” claiming he and his family have been confronted with rising tuition costs.

Warnock was at the forefront of the Democrat push for Biden to attempt to cancel college debt for millions of Americans, and during the debate, Warnock reiterated his efforts and personal experience of benefiting from Pell Grants.

Walker pointed out the perceived unfairness of Georgians forgoing college because they could not afford it and then having those same would-be students watch the Biden administration wipe away debt from those who chose to take out loans. Walker also pointed out the student loan cancellation plan’s estimated burden on taxpayers, asking, “How can you transfer someone’s debt who owes it to someone that don’t owe it?”

“Sen. Warnock brags about making $400 billion that now, the taxpayer, all you in the audience gotta pay for,” Walker added. “You gotta pay that debt, and I didn’t cosign for anyone’s loan. I hope no one out here cosigned for anyone’s loan because I didn’t cosign for anyone’s loan, and it’s not right, and it’s not fair.”

On the topic of rising crime, Warnock, who has a history of spreading anti-police rhetoric in sermons, touted legislation he has passed to support law enforcement, such as the bipartisan Invest to Protect Act.

“We’ve got to stand up with law enforcement, but we’ve also got to create opportunity,” Warnock said.

Walker, who has been endorsed by a majority of the state’s county sheriffs, responded, “He’s called them names, and because of the name-calling he’s done, the morale is down. Recruitment is down. … He’s empowered criminals to think they’re better than the police.”


The debate turned feisty when Warnock accused Walker of lying and said, “One thing I have not done, I’ve never pretended to be a police officer, and I’ve never threatened a shootout with the police.”

In a viral moment, Walker responded by pulling out his honorary deputy sheriff badge he earned from Cobb County, a move the debate moderator immediately objected to, telling Walker that the badge was a “prop” and noting props are against debate rules.

Warnock said during the debate he supported closing the “Medicaid gap” of healthcare coverage, while Walker said, “What I want you to do is get off the government health care and get on the health care that he’s got, to get you a better health care. So that’s what I’m trying to do is make you independent rather than dependent.”

Warnock dodged several questions throughout the night, avoiding directly answering if he thought Biden should run for reelection in 2024, if the Atlanta Braves’ name should be changed, and if he would support expanding the Supreme Court.

On the question about expanding the Supreme Court, Walker said, “When you get in Washington, you have to become a leader, being a leader, you have to make tough decisions. You see on that answer there he really didn’t give you an answer. So my answer is no.”

Following the conclusion of the debate, several politicians, pundits, and reporters — including some who typically lean left — opined about the candidates’ performances, many observing that Walker had appeared more prepared than expected:

The debate came after months of stalemate between Walker and Warnock about debate stipulations, and it was the only one scheduled to occur ahead of the election on November 8. Early voting for the race begins Monday.

Write to Ashley Oliver at Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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